Love is often a phenomenon where people focus on external expressions. Commercially this time of year we see ads for Valentine’s Day tokens for our romantic partners and close friends. However, when was the last time you felt lovingly towards yourself?
In December we discussed the importance of self-care. This is essential to our physical, spiritual and mental wellbeing as well as a loving act we give ourselves. But consider on any given day how you speak about yourself either to others or most importantly towards yourself. Chances are you are far nicer to others in your life than you are to yourself. This month we will work on correcting this pattern and reintroduce it to your true best friend.
As sexual abuse survivors, we can be hyper-critical of ourselves for a number of reasons. Abusers may have programmed us with an inner dialogue of nasty words to keep us from understanding our own power or potential. It can also be due to a feeling that we brought this trauma onto ourselves through our thoughts, behaviors or actions. If you were abused by multiple people or suffered multiple significant traumas in your life, especially during childhood, you may have the limiting belief that you were the common denominator in all the painful events and thus unworthy of self-love or redemption. Read on to discover a few exercises you can explore to help you rewrite your inner dialogue.
Exercise 1: Mirror Mirror on the Wall
Mirrors are an easy, yet powerful way for us to face our reality. This piece of polished glass strips away the façade of what we think we are and only reflects our true physical essence. If you are bold enough to look deep into your eyes, you can begin to process your true mental or even spiritual state. Seek to look beyond the initial characteristics you see and into the depth of you.
Strive to use the mirror as a way to provide yourself positive affirmations. You can go as active or passive as your spirit calls. A good example of a passive affirmation is to write down some of your favorite quotes or create a simple mantra on a post-it note, and adhere it to the mirror. You could also choose to write something on the mirror in lipstick or a glass-safe marker.
A more active exercise would be to speak directly to your reflection. Find a period of time you can be alone with a hung or bolted mirror. Take a few breaths to center yourself then dig deeply inward and tell yourself something affirming about yourself. Feel free to start small, perhaps complement your choice of personal style that day. If you feel okay doing that, try to challenge yourself into something more abstract. Maintain eye contact and tell yourself something to promote personal growth for you. Something profound could be as simple as “it wasn’t your fault,” “you have value,” “or I love you.” Let yourself experience any and all feelings from this conversation and end the time by sincerely thanking yourself for your bravery to face your authentic self, face on.
Exercise 2: Healing Touch
You can also use reflexive technology to promote greater self-love and self-peace. Popularized in the early 1990s, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), commonly referred to as “tapping”, is a way of stimulating by using acupressure with one’s fingertips on key energy meridians on the body (areas through which energy flows), and rewiring limiting beliefs with more helpful words and behaviors.
Begin by finding a peaceful space where you can be alone. Stand loosely, legs hip-width apart. First, do a scan of your body to see where you are holding any physical or mental tension. Being mindful and nonjudgmental, see if you can explore the root causes of these tense areas. Identify areas in your body where the energy feels either negative or stuck. State an intention out loud about a particular area of your psyche you would like to adjust. For example, if you are finding yourself frustrated by something, state out loud “I feel frustrated.” Open the link above and refer to the section entitled “Finding the Right Tapping Points” for how to properly tap these energy meridians. After you are done tapping scan yourself again and see how you are feeling now. Repeat the tapping pattern, this time stating an intention of something you want to promote within yourself. For example, you might tap stating “I am peaceful.” In my experience, shorter statements work better, but you can go into more detail if it feels comfortable for you.
If EFT does not feel right for you, consider giving yourself a hug striving to touch your opposing shoulder blades for a small massage. Then give yourself another hug reversing which arm is above the other. Feel free to sway or saying anything that might come to you at the moment. Breathe deeply and notice on your exhale your body release tension. Do this three times. Afterward, thank you for this time and for embarking on this journey of self-love and appreciation.
Regardless of the exercise, you select, find time in each day to be a bit more loving to yourself. Pay attention to how you speak about yourself to others or yourself. Try to replace a tendency to say “I’m sorry” if you bump into someone with “Excuse (Pardon) Me.” You should actively work to uplift yourself whenever possible and strive to be your own best friend. Send us feedback on how you are implementing ways to better show yourself, love, via email or our social media channels. You are wonderfully made and bring boundless gifts into this empowering community. Together we can shine light onto the darkness and end the secrecy and shame surrounding surviving sexual abuse.